We’re back with a few more movie reviews, and I’ve got to say that I’m starting to enjoy this format! I still get to watch the movies I want to, but now I can watch them on my own schedule and I keep things nice and succinct. The only problem is that I’m not getting these out in a timely manner, but relevance is overrated, am I right!? Anyway, let’s take a look at three movies that I’m sure you saw a while ago but are still interested to hear what some guy on the internet has to say about them! Let’s get started!!
Bullet Train is owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by David Leitch
A hapless assassin given the codename Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is on a very simple mission to retrieve a briefcase on a train heading to Kyoto. Naturally, these kinds of things never are that easy and he laments his bad luck while dodging other assassins on the train, and is haphazardly embroiled in a plot that is bigger than he could possibly imagine and seems to be heading in one very bloody direction.
I’m not a guy who will turn his nose up at over-the-top action spectacles or something that is intentionally cheesy and a movie like this should have been my jam by default, but even the best ingredients will go to waste if given to an untalented chef, and I just found this whole thing to be insufferable. It’s convoluted without being clever, smarmy without the charm to make up for it, and artificial to the point that nothing seems to actually matter. The only part of the movie that resonated with me was the relationship between Lemon and Tangerine as Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson had great chemistry and added some genuine heart to an otherwise insincere story, and while I feel like this is one of the most Monkeys’ Paw wishes imaginable, I’d kind of like to see what could be done with a spinoff focusing on them specifically. Andrew Koji also stands out from everything else with a very angry and desperate performance that’s still about as one-note as everything else in the movie, but at least it’s a different note being played and does a great job playing it. Everything else though is just laden with insufferable dialogue and compounding coincidences that just drain any investment you can have in the characters or the plot itself; especially our protagonist who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. For that kind of story to work, it has to ultimately circle back around to them actually being the right person to be there, but that would require a level of emotional investment that this movie is just unwilling to extend and so Brad Pitt feels like as distant to the story as those of us sitting in the theater watching him awkwardly stumble his way through a place he doesn’t belong; like an uninvited party guest asking everyone where the bathroom is. With the threadbare story, the quip-tastic dialogue, and the general lack of impact or weight from any of the narrative beats, it falls somewhere between a Rick and Morty episode and one of those award show skits with a bunch of celebrities are comically inserted into another movie. If we take it on these terms, as little more than entertainment fluff with a bunch of famous people in it, does it manage to work? Sort of, I guess. It’s competent in its action and the actors are fine for what they’re asked to do, but it’s also not that inspiring or clever in its shallowness and I had my fill of everything it had to offer well before it got to its big cameos at the end. At best it’s a misguided attempt from Hollywood to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of early Tarantino as well as the director’s own early success with John Wick, and at worst it’s the cinematic equivalent of Steve Buscemi in a backwards baseball cap asking his fellow kids how they are doing. It’s not without its charms, but why settle for the smoothed-over corporate version of stylized action shlock when the genuine article is easier to find than ever?
Ad Astra and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by James Gray
We already sent Matt Damon into space and couldn’t get rid of him, so I guess its Brad Pitt’s turn on the intergalactic chopping block. Space movies, especially ones that try to reflect our current understanding of outer space and an approximation of our current technology have been a great way to explore our own humanity as well as the stars themselves with 2001: A Space Odyssey still being the gold standard that these kinds of films try to aspire to. Does this newest sci-fi drama about Brad Pitt IN SPACE prove to be a worthy contemporary of the genre, or will the only favorable comparisons be to Plan 9 From Outer Space? Let’s find out!!
Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an astronaut in the near future where that’s back to being a viable career and NASA has morphed into the SpaceCom which has put bases on the moon, on Mars, and they even sent a space ship out to Neptune to look for life beyond what they can see back on Earth. That space ship was part of the “Lima Project” which was launched sixteen years ago with Roy’s dad Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) and hasn’t been heard from in years and is presumed lost forever. That is until weird electrical pulses start to reach Earth that knock out power in a lot of places and even causes a giant space antenna to come crashing down that Roy just so happened to be working on at the time, and SpaceCom thinks that it might be the… super science generator (something to do with dark matter maybe?) that they stuck on Clifford’s ship all those years ago. On the off chance that this is the case, they want Roy to get his butt to Mars and use their super science broadcasting antenna (basically pirate radio IN SPACE) to get a message out to Neptune and hopefully to his dad. Things get complicated right away however as there seems to be more going on than SpaceCom is telling him, and on top of that he’s got some unresolved issues with the old man, what with him leaving his family to never return, that may or may not complicate things even if they DO get a message to him. Will Roy come to terms with the decisions his father made as well as finally get the closure he’s looking for? What challenges will he face and what secrets will he uncover during the rather long voyage from Earth to Mars? How do you pack for kind of trip anyway? A lot of protein bars I guess?
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
I really didn’t want to see this movie. In fact, if ANYTHING else had bothered to come out this weekend I would have seen that instead, but nope! Everyone had to make way for this film so I guess I have to try and be professional! I don’t know, with everything we’ve heard about Tarantino recently it’s just hard for me to get excited to see his movie’s again; let alone support a new one. Cancelled or not, I just personally feel very much deflated thinking about him and going to see his latest movie just felt like even more of a somber experience. Still, while acknowledging the very real and very important context of the artist behind the art, is there a good movie to be found here? I guess we might as well find out…
Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an actor struggling to find steady work in the hectic world of late sixties Hollywood after a rather unsuccessful string of movies following a decent television career playing the lead role on a western. His stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) has stuck with Rick all this time since he’s had trouble finding work elsewhere and seems to have accepted his lot in life even if he’s basically Rick’s assistant at this point. Fortunately for Rick, he’s got a decent gig lined up playing the bad guy in some TV pilot which will hopefully get him some attention (otherwise he’ll end up doing Spaghetti Westerns which I guess weren’t good things to be in at the time) and this also means that Cliff has the day to himself which he uses to pick up a hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley) who wants to introduce him to her buddy Charlie who’s got a bunch of followers out in the desert. Oh, and on top of that Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is Rick’s next door neighbor, and she’s doing stuff as well like… seeing movies and dancing around the house. Can Rick nail this latest role that may be his last chance to stay relevant? What will Cliff find at the compound the hitchhiker is taking him too, and will he be able to leave if things get out of hand? Is it just me, or is Tarantino trying a bit too hard here? Or perhaps not hard enough?
Deadpool 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by David Leitch
The first Deadpool was really solid for what it was, and I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it only SORT of is! It was not so much a movie in its own right as it was a proof of concept for a character to show how something this dark, comedic, and off the wall can be done in the super hero genre. It makes sense considering this character had pretty much been struggling to prove itself for years as a cinematically viable presence what with the awfulness that was Origins Wolverine (there was an even a stinger for him to return in later X-Men films) or even that CG rendered test footage that became the big car action scene in the real film. I wasn’t THE MOST thrilled with the end result as a movie, but I was glad that Ryan Reynolds found a character perfectly suited for his capabilities as an actor and that a studio was finally ready to back him up on that. Now that EVERYONE knows who Deadpool is and are ready to see him in action outside of an origin story, is there enough left to work with to make the amazing film he truly deserves, or was he just a gimmick the whole time and lightening won’t be striking twice for this one? Let’s find out!!
After getting his revenge, resolving his character arc, and making a boat load at the box office, Deadpool AKA Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is living his Merc with a Mouth life full of blood, snappy quips, and awesome days with his lady love Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Sadly the good times won’t last forever and Wade is basically left to his own devices which can only spell doom and gloom for those foolish enough to get in his way… unless of course you’re made entirely out of metal. Oh hey! His best buddy Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) is made of metal! Maybe he can get Wade out of his funk and FINALLY get him to join the X-Men! Thing is, that’s KIND of a monkey’s paw wish as he DOES indeed join the team (as a trainee) but right away screws things up when a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennsion) gets himself into trouble and Deadpool comes to his aid in a manner that doesn’t QUITE meet the X-Men code… or the law, and winds up going to Mutant Jail which is apparently a thing. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s ALSO a half cyborg dude named Cable (Josh Brolin) pulling a Terminator by coming back to the past to save the future and it SEEMS to involve both Wade AND death, so Deadpool certainly has his work cut out for him in order to escape prison, keep the kid from ending up a reprobate like himself, and stopping the Future Cop from whatever the hell it is he plans on doing. Will Wade learn how to not just be an irreverent jackass, but an irreverent jackass with a HEART? Just how far will Cable go to complete his mission, and how much collateral damage will Wade have to suffer because of it? He may not be the best man for the job, but is he at least the FUNNIEST one!?
Allied and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Oh hey! I remember that guy! Didn’t he do that one movie no one saw last year? Sure, Zemeckis hasn’t had the best track record since Cast Away (mostly due to his obsession with CG animated films for a while there), but The Walk was a pretty solid film that just didn’t get much attention for some reason. Sure, it wasn’t full of explosions or even A list actors (Joseph Gordon Levitt still has a ways to go), but it still a really well made little caper that kept things light and fun. Now it seems that Zemeckis is going in the opposite direction with this sizably budgeted war thriller with two super stars in the cast and a much more intense feel to it. Not to say that any of that is a BAD thing; it’s just interesting that his new film seems to be so diametrically opposed to what he did just last year. Is this movie not only another stellar outing for Zemeckis but the big hit that The Walk just couldn’t manage to be, or will we be wishing to see Philippe Petit walk across another tightrope before this film is over? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Canadian Super Spy Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) arriving in Casablanca Morocco to meet up with French Resistance Fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) to do the one thing you’re supposed to do Casablanca during World War 2; kill some damn Nazis! Say what you will about the greatest generation; at least they knew not to VOTE for them! Of course, during the course of this mission they end up falling in love and Max manages to get Marianne passage to England so that they can get married and he can take a desk job in British Intelligence. Things seem to be going well for some time (they even have a kid together), but then one day some dude who’s like fifty pay grades above Max that they suspect Marianne to be a German Spy. Not only that, but if they find OUT she’s a spy then he’ll have to kill her with his own hands; lest he get charged with treason hang from a noose. Okay… I’m pretty sure that’s still murder even if some dude in the government tells you to do it, but whatever. Needless to say that Max doesn’t buy this for a second and then proceeds to break every rule in the book to try and prove his wife’s innocence despite the evidence this government dude is laying out for him. Will Max find the truth and is it the truth he’s hoping for? Where exactly did the higher ups get all this evidence, and why are they coming to Max like this while they’re still investigating? If she’s REALLY a Nazi what the hell could she POSSIBLY hope to get by going THIS deep under cover for THIS long when she’s hooking up with THIS pencil pusher!?
The Big Short and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Adam McKay
So the guy who directed both Anchorman Movies, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys is gonna sit here and try to tell us about the housing crisis? Yeah right! Who’s gonna take THAT seriously!? Wait, they’ve got Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, AND Ryan Gosling? It’s also written by the writer of Moneyball? Well I certainly didn’t see THAT coming. Then again, it’s not like he hasn’t taken on relevant targets in the past. Just look at Anchorman 2! That took a lot of pot shots at Fox News and the media in general, even if it was surrounded by a lot of stupid. So can the guy who brought us four Will Farrell man-child movies manage to make something a bit more mature while still giving it a proper sense of humor, or will this be just another painful example of someone who is WAY out of his depth and has no idea what the hell their doing and go back to his old shtick to give us Step Brothers 2: Now There’s Three of Them or Something? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows several people in the years leading up to the big financial crisis of 2008 brought about by the crash of the housing market. As we interweave between these stories of people who saw it coming, it’s slowly dawns on them (and the audience) just how absolutely unattainable the market was at the time and just how corrupt the system got which is what led to everything going to hell. That’s really about it as most of the characters serve as either audience avatars or exposition machines to keep the audience in the loop as to what’s going on. It’s definitely more about giving the us an idea of the scope of the problem rather than telling personal stories within them, but a couple of the character eek out an arc here and there like the young investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) who are new to all this and get caught right in the god damn middle or even Mark Baum (Steve Carell) who’s already got it out for the big banks and at first sees this as just another thing to call them out on until he realizes how dep the rabbit hole goes in all of this.